Mechanical engineering major Chigozie Erondu may have always been passionate about robotics, but in his time at Mason, he’s developed a new passion for helping the Mason community stay sustainable.
Erondu spent his junior year on the Patriot Green Fund (PGF) committee, a $100,000 a year fund within Mason’s Office of Sustainability that enables students to conduct research, reduce Mason’s environmental impact, and improve awareness and support of building a sustainable campus culture.
“I applied to be a part of the board because I felt it could give me a new perspective,” says Erondu, who is a leader in other Mason supported student organizations like the National Society for Black Engineers and the Society of American Military Engineers that have sought funding or support from Mason before. He knew that joining the PGF would show him how stakeholders made these decisions.
“I enjoyed the thought process of starting with X amount of money and making hard decisions on where that money should go, what will make the most impact,” says Erondu.
Current students, faculty, staff members, and student groups with research or infrastructure projects can apply for funds from the PGF, and Erondu says he saw many great projects but not all of them could be approved.
“As a committee, we saw a lot of great ideas, but we had to make some tough decisions on what could be funded,” he says.
One project Erondu oversaw was called the “Mason Pond Bathymetry” project. This team was seeking funding to build a robot designed to collect surface floor data from the Mason Pond for their senior design project.
The committee was made up of students and faculty members from different disciplines, which gave a diverse perspective to the decision-making process. “After going through each proposal, we had a discussion together about the impact of the project. Sometimes, we go back to the people who submitted the proposal and asked more questions to get an in-depth look at the project so we can make an informed decision,” says Erondu.
“Being a part of the PGF taught me to think long-term, not just for these projects, but for the impact I will make on the world,” says Erondu.